The partnership between the Premier League and the French fantasy sports platform Sorare to sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs) is a sign that the sporting world continues to embrace digital assets despite the market decline.
The agreement provides Sorare a four-year license to sell digital sports cards of players from each of the twenty Premier League clubs, according to a statement released by Sorare on Monday.
Sky News reported in October that the annual value of the agreement could be 30 million pounds ($37.13 million). Sorare refused to comment on the veracity of the figure reported by Sky News.
Cards in Sorare’s game are purchased and traded as NFTs, a type of blockchain-based asset, using either cryptocurrency or traditional currency. In a 2021 funding round led by SoftBank, Sorare of Paris raised $680 million at a valuation of $4.3 billion.
Since 2021, Britain’s gambling watchdog has been investigating Sorare to determine whether its game constitutes gambling. Last week, Sorare CEO Nicolas Julia told reporters that the investigation was still ongoing. In November, France’s gambling regulator instructed the company to modify the game, such as expanding its free-to-play option.
The manner in which fans follow their favorite teams and players is changing, and the Premier League is currently looking new ways to engage with fans, according to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters.
NFTs grew quickly in 2021, but prices and sales fell last year as investors became more cautious and the crypto industry was shaken by a series of high-profile collapses.
During the boom, a lot of the best soccer teams and sports stars promoted NFTs and “fan tokens” to their fans. People who like them say they can be used to get fans more involved, but people who don’t like them say they could lead to more financial speculation.
“The lack of regulatory oversight for crypto and NFTs is obviously something which supporters should be aware of,” the FSA added.
The average sale price of a Sorare NFT dropped to around $38 in December, down from a high of $281 in March 2021, according to blockchain tracker CryptoSlam. However, the number of Sorare monthly buyers and transactions is near a record high.
Julia said that the firm, which has more than 3 million users, has “trended very differently from the rest of the space” because its NFTs have “utility value.”
According to Julia, 87 percent of current users play the game for free on the platform.
Sorare employs an in-game cryptocurrency, but Julia plans to change this, describing it as the “last remaining friction” for players who wish to avoid the volatility of cryptocurrencies.